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Uber Cup: Saina retires injured, but India beat Spain

Source: PTI
October 10, 2021 19:35 IST
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Saina Nehwal

IMAGE: Injury forced Saina Nehwal to concede the opening singles to Spain’s Clara Azurmendi in the Uber Cup, as she developed discomfort in her groin area. Photograph: Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images

Saina Nehwal was forced to retire midway through her opening singles but India's young brigade produced a clinical display thereafter to notch a 3-2 victory over Spain and get off to a winning start in the Uber Cup, in Aarhus, Denmark, on Sunday.

 

Starting the proceedings for India, London Olympics bronze medallist Saina had to concede her match after losing the first game 20-22 to Clara Azurmendi, as she developed discomfort in her groin area.

However, Malvika Bansod ensured the team recovered from the opening rubber reverse, dishing out a 21-13, 21-15 victory over former world No. 20 Beatriz Corrales to level the tie 1-1.

Tanisha Crasto and Rutaparna Panda then produced an equally impressive display, completely outplaying Spain's Paula Lopez and Lorena Usle 21-10, 21-8 in the doubles as India grabbed a 2-1 lead in the five-match rubber.

In the third singles, Aditi Bhatt gave ample display of her talent, besting Ania Setien 21-16, 21-14 to enable India take an unassailable 3-1 lead.

Commonwealth Games bronze medallists N Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa, however, could not get past the world No. 122 pair of Azurmendi and Corrales, losing 18-21, 21-14, 17-21 in the second women's doubles.

India will face Scotland in their second Group B match on Tuesday.

Saina was forced to walk off the court after feeling a sudden pain in her groin midway through the first women's singles.

"There was a certain catch in my groin. I was surprised at how it happened. I was trying to get back my rhythm and I couldn't get it and I had to give it up because it was hurting when I was taking long lunges," Saina was quoted as saying by olympics.com.

The 31-year-old from Hyderabad said she will monitor her injury in the next few days.

"I think let us see the next three, four days, how it is. There are two more matches, so I just want to see how it goes. I don't want to take any sudden decision at the moment because my body feels good but this groin issue has to go."

It was, however, a delightful sight to see the youngsters stepping up.

First up was the left-handed Bansod, who produced a superb display, making Corrales run around the court with her angled returns to dominate the proceedings.

The Indian entered the break with an 11-8 lead before grabbing nine game points. She lost two chances before sealing the opening game with a precise net return.

Bansod, who won the Uganda and Lithuanian internationals this year, played some magnificent shots to erase a small deficit early on in the second game and held a 11-5 advantage at the interval.

Corrales tried to stage a comeback in the latter stages but Bansod grabbed five match-points before unleashing a brutal smash to seal the contest.

Tanisha and Rutaparna then showed good tactical acumen, leaving their opponents in awe with their smart badminton. The duo dominated the match with their power and precision as Paula and Lorena succumbed in a heap of errors.

Next, Aditi carried the momentum forward, dishing out a gritty performance as she kept her nose ahead after breaking off at 4-4, despite her opponent snapping at her heels.

She was more at ease in the second game, moving in giant strides to eventually seal it comfortably.

The men's team will take on The Netherlands in the Thomas Cup later in the day.

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